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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, July 02, 2022

Victory sends Badger seniors out on a high note

Standing on the scorer's table and celebrating with the 17,190 in attendance at the Kohl Center on Senior Day, it was easy to see the relief on senior guard Kammron Taylor's face after a hard week. 

 

Just six days after a tough game at Ohio State, Taylor fought through another mediocre shooting day Saturday and hit the biggest shot of his career—a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3.9 seconds remaining to give Wisconsin (13-3 Big Ten, 27-4 overall) the 52-50 win over Michigan State (8-8, 21-10). 

 

""He made a heck of a shot,"" MSU head coach Tom Izzo said. ""He hasn't been making many lately, but I guess that's the way it's written in Hollywood when you are a senior."" 

 

Taylor was not the only senior to go out on a high note in his final home game. Senior forward Alando Tucker scored a game-high 26 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and his aggressiveness got him to the free throw line where he went 9-for-12. In his previous three games, Tucker shot only 10 free throws and failed to get to the line at all when UW lost at Michigan State Feb. 20.  

 

""He's done so much for us,"" head coach Bo Ryan said. ""We weren't going to leave this game without making sure the ball touched him."" 

 

And there was Tucker on his last offensive possession ever at the Kohl Center, not taking the big shot, but screening for his teammate Taylor, who had made only one field goal before hitting the game-winner. 

 

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""It was a ball screen play that you see in basketball on a Saturday,"" Ryan said. ""You'll probably see 200 of them, but none bigger than that one."" 

 

For Taylor, it was a fitting way to end a week that started with missing a big free throw at Ohio State and having a last-second shot blocked. This time it went in, and when MSU guard Drew Neitzel's heave at the buzzer fell short, Taylor darted to the scorer's table where his celebration was the polar opposite of the tears he shed six days earlier in Columbus, Ohio.  

 

""My feelings are the highest they have ever been since I have been here at Wisconsin,"" Taylor said after the game. ""To go out on a note like that, hitting the game-winning shot in front of your home fans and in front of my family, it felt good."" 

 

The shot saved UW from its third consecutive loss and salvaged some momentum before the Big Ten tournament, which begins Thursday. Tucker agreed that it was the best possible way to leave the Kohl Center. 

 

""For us to end it like this, it was a picture perfect ending,"" Tucker said. ""For Kam to hit that shot, I just stood at half court afterwards and I was at a loss for words because that was the perfect scenario."" 

 

Wisconsin could very well play Michigan State again Friday at the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago. The Spartans face Northwestern Thursday and the winner will go on to play UW in the quarterfinals. It would be the third time in four games the two teams met. 

 

For now, however, the Badgers can move forward and put their recent struggles behind them. 

 

""I'm never going to forget about Ohio State, but this definitely makes it easier to move on,"" Taylor said.

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